Instagram removes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. over false COVID-19 vaccine claims

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Coral Murphy Marcos, USA TODAY
·2 min read
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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Instagram has shut down anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s account for sharing debunked claims about COVID-19 vaccines.

The nephew of late President John F. Kennedy has also spoken out against COVID-19 vaccines on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, which are still active. Kennedy claims the vaccines cause severe allergic reactions and are linked to several deaths, including that of baseball star Hank Aaron. Aaron died last month after suffering a massive stroke.

The environmental attorney had 800,000 followers on his Instagram account before it was taken down, and currently has more than 303,000 followers on Facebook and more than 215,000 followers on Twitter.

“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

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The move comes as Facebook cracks down on vaccine misinformation by taking down debunked claims on its platforms, including Instagram.

On Monday, Facebook expanded the list of false information it would remove, including claims that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured and that vaccines are toxic, dangerous or cause autism. The claim that the coronavirus was man-made or engineered has been debunked, as well as the claim that vaccines cause autism.

In December, Twitter announced it would take similar measures by removing claims that vaccines intentionally cause harm or are unnecessary.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that initial supplies of the COVID-19 vaccines be allocated to health care personnel and long-term care facility residents, and then front-line workers and people aged 75 and older.

Kennedy's siblings, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Joseph P. Kennedy, expressed concern in a Politico op-ed in 2019. "We love Robert F. Kennedy Jr., but he is part of a misinformation campaign that’s having heartbreaking – and deadly – consequences," reads the article.

Follow Coral Murphy on Twitter @CoralMerfi

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Instagram bans Robert F. Kennedy Jr. over false COVID-19 vaccine info